The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (VPA), P.L.
105-19, became law on June 18, 1997, when the President signed S. 543, 105th
Congress. As passed by the Senate, this bill was identical to H.R. 911, 105th Congress,
as reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary on May 19, 1997 (H.Rept. 105-101). The
VPA, whose effective date is September 16, 1997, immunizes individuals who do volunteer work
for nonprofit organizations or governmental entities from liability for ordinary negligence in the
course of their volunteer work. It also limits punitive damages and noneconomic damages against
volunteers who are held liable. It does not affect the liability of nonprofit organizations or
governmental entities. The purpose of the VPA is to encourage people to do volunteer work for such
nonprofit organizations and governmental entities. However, it allows states affirmatively to declare
it inapplicable to suits in their state in which all parties to the action are citizens of the state.